Nadal's hard court performance (spoiler!)

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Resurge, Apr 6, 2008.

  1. Resurge

    Resurge New User

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    Okay now that the spring HC season is over, time for a closer look at Nadal’s HC performance in the past year or so, when he’s supposedly made lots of progress. First, it’d be blind to say that he’s not improving – he’s been in the quarter or above in the past five or six HC tournaments, and made two finals. In addition, he posted some impressive results against people who used to be nightmare for him – Blake, Birdman, etc. Things are looking pretty good. But, hang on just a second – let’s look at his recent losses since US open last year:

    Madrid: 1:6 2:6 to Nalby
    Paris: :4:6 0:6 to Nalby
    TMC: 4:6 1:6 to Fed
    TMC: 6:4 4:6 3:6 to Fererr
    Chennai: 0:6 1:6 to Misha
    AO: 2:6 3:6 2:6 to Tsonga
    Rotterdam: 6:3 3:6 4:6 to Seppi
    Dubai: 6:7 2:6 to Andy
    IW: 3:6 2:6 to Djokovic
    Miami: 4:6 2:6 to Davy

    Quite a number of lopsided scores, if you ask me. But well, doesn’t matter, there’re tons of reasons that any bad things can happen, so let’s not focus only on this. More data would be nice, so let go to H2H (on hardcourt) of the top 8 players:

    vs. Fed: 2:3 lifetime; 0:1 since 2007
    vs. Djokovic: 2:3 lifetime; 2:3 since 2007
    vs. Davy: 1:1 lifetime; 0:1 since 2007
    vs. Ferrer: 1:2 lifetime; 0:2 since 2007
    vs. Roddick 1:2 lifetime; 1:1 since 2007
    vs. Nalbandian 0:2 lifetime 0:2 since 2007
    vs. Blake: 2:3 lifetime; 2:0 since 2007

    Together: he’s 8:16 lifetime, and 5:10 since 2007. If you look at only Top 5 player (where I think his would be), the number gets even more lopsided.

    What does this mean – it means Nadal, on a hard court on a given day, has only 33.3% chance of winning against a top 8 player (himself excluded), and this stats does not improve, as many have expected, in recent months.

    In fact, if you look even closer, see Nadal’s recent improvement in hard court results: since last clay season, in all HC tournaments he only played with Top 8 12 times in route the “impressive” results, guess how many times he won? Three! (two over Blake in the past two weeks, one over Djokovic in TMC). If you claim to be a top contender on HC, you need better results than this.

    I am not listing all these just to say Nadal sucks – on the contrary, I love this guy. He’s a great player who works very hard and deserves every respect. What bothers me, is that some of the so-called “fans” are just so blind and talk as if he’s already on top of men’s game on HC already. No, he’s not, he’s improving, but so is the field. He had some nice wins over his old rivals, but no doubt new ones are being added to the mix at the same time: Ferrer, Tsonga, even Djokovic, who was not such a problem at all in the past. I expect Murray to come into the show pretty soon too. Nadal is definitely a better player than he was two years ago, but so is everybody.

    Don’t cite a slumping Federer as a standard – his current form should not be a standard if Nadal wants to go anywhere beyond being a great clay-courter. “Better than Federer” sounds nice, but we all know what that means at this time of Federer’s career. I know some of you will call me a hater – but hey, even a hater like me thinks Nadal should achieve more than what he’s done now. Blindness don’t help on the way.
     
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  2. MEAC_ALLAMERICAN

    MEAC_ALLAMERICAN Legend

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    I am watching the match now and Ms. Mary Carillo brought something to my attention:


    He has won the most hard court matches in 2008. :shock:



    Again, credit Mary for this information. :D
     
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  3. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    Welcome to the board, and great 1st post! Interesting facts, should shut a few Nadal-troll mouths. :)
    But he's also played more hard court tourneys compared to the rest of the top 10, if I'm not mistaken.
     
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  4. MEAC_ALLAMERICAN

    MEAC_ALLAMERICAN Legend

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    I know, but I am trying to make Mary look good at the same time. Come on now, don't take the spotlight away from her.:oops:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2008
    #4
  5. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    Lol, well, she has been getting a lot of bad publicity in the past year... :twisted:
     
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  6. kabob

    kabob Professional

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    I love threads like this. Concise, good grammar, and logical conclusions and opinions backed up by FACTS and STATS. I was honestly considering quitting this board altogether as so many of the threads are made by fanboys that seem to post little else but bias-laden TROLL threads bashing their least favorite players and propping up thier favorites.

    Thanks, Resurge!
     
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  7. Jonny S&V

    Jonny S&V Hall of Fame

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    I know, isn't it refreshing to see a new user who actually has valid topics?
     
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  8. kabob

    kabob Professional

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    Indeed, it is :)
     
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  9. Resurge

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    Thanks guys. Looking forward to have some fun on this forum.
     
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  10. PROTENNIS63

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    great post. very informative.

    You will have lots of fun, especially in this part of the forum. Sometime people write some scary stuff here. :)
     
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  11. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    I'm one of the few that thinks she's a good commentator. She and John McEnroe are a great mix.
     
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  12. edberg505

    edberg505 Legend

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    Hmm, pretty darn good post.
     
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  13. Vision84

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    Refreshing to see someone actually back up their argument with something intelligent. And notice how the responses are more civilized to.
     
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  14. daddy

    daddy Legend

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    Well although you used a lot of information and stats, Nadal is the by far the 2nd best player in the ATP race thus far - which is also a fact but this one seems to back up that he had a pretty good start to the 2008 HC season. One more fact is that he never won as many point in this part of the season until now. Last year he had 1025 points before the clay season and this year he has 1245 points. This is a clear improvement although he won IW last year and had no tourney wins this year. For comparison in 2006 he had around 620 points in this perod and in 2005 he played a bunch of clay court tourneys in south america and mexico and yet won around 600 points in total. This is a clear imrovement for Rafa both in terms of being consistant and getting far into the tourneys on HC.
     
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  15. Resurge

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    Again - denying Rafa is progressing is stupid, as I stated in the first sentence. What is not shown in the number of points is who he's played in those tournaments, and who he wants to be compared against. As I said, if Rafa is happy to be "one of the better players on HC",he's already there, and actually did more than that. The point I am trying to make is that if you'd like to be a top contender on this surface, you need better results against the top guys rather than hoping you do not run into them in tournaments. It's a good start for Rafa in 2008 compared with 2007 - but his 2005 was far superior to 2007 too (a few HC titles), so can we say he regressed? Certainly not. Comparisons can be read in many many different ways and I am just offering one way to look at the results that may have be omitted just by points.
     
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  16. daddy

    daddy Legend

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    Honestly not being a fan of the guy, I can only tell you this much. If you expect a clay courter, even as talented as him - to change the game and become a HC predator - you are wrong. It is simply not going to happen anytime soon. He will always be one of the best, never the best. If you want reasons take a look at his strenghts and weaknesses and you will realise that he loves spining groundies and serve and running down balls more than hitting flat serves and strokes and going for them. Also I can safely bet he will not do as good as last couple of times in Wimby, but this is off the record.
     
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  17. Resurge

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    I am totally with you. In my original post, I acknowledge that Rafa is progressing on this game but the reason I brought up the whole thing is that some posters are so biased in their reading of the game and just walk around posting as if Rafa can easily beat anyone on HC (which I think he certainly can but reading those posts makes you believe no one is even close to his level). I like this guy, but I also know this strengths and limitations. Maybe because I am still new and still get annoyed by those...:)
     
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  18. daddy

    daddy Legend

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    No problems, I am no fan but I like him also. I do stand by my statement that I think safest big surprise to predict (if it can be called so) is Nadal going out in the first week of Wimby. Might not happen but this is more likely than Fed not getting to RG final and that is highly likely as things stand right now. This is just me trying to be smart on time, so I can pull this quote in several months time .. ;)
     
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  19. Resurge

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    I think that'll depend on how the clay season goes, both for Federer and for Nadal. If Nadal has a great season as he's had in the past two years, or Federer has a very poor one, he's likely be very pumped up and he can go deep in the tournament. If however he suffers some unexpected defeats on clay, things will be interesting in SW19 for him. No doubt he's a confidence player, and I may get flamed for saying this: Nadal is not particularly confident at this moment of his career, given the pressure from Djokovic & Company, and the expectation people put on him. I actually think both Federer (for sure) and himself need a break from these pressure, but maybe just me.
     
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  20. crawl4

    crawl4 Rookie

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    yeh i agree with you but i think federer is in a better position then nadal right now. Aside from his form Federer isnt expected to do as well a he has done at Roland Garros with his mixed results and as the first post mentioned nadal is being praised on HC! This would lead to expectations for his favorite surface and although he is likely to win, he is under a lot of pressure. In case i sound biased i may be as i dont like watching nadal's style of play, its to grinding and defensive but man i wish i could play like that.
     
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  21. caulcano

    caulcano Hall of Fame

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    I can't see Nadal losing in the first week at Wimbledon. It's his second home after RG.

    Also, I don't think we'll see a repeat of the Wimbledon & French final. One or both will lose before the final of each.
     
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  22. Nadal_Monfils

    Nadal_Monfils Semi-Pro

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    True, Nadal has not fared very well vs the top 8 on hardcourts lately, but there are still very good hardcourt players that are not in the top 8 that he has had some success against such as Murray and Berdych. The top 8 are not the only good players in the world, players outside of the top 8 can pose a problem as well, as some of them are younger guys on the rise, like Tsonga.
     
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  23. jmverdugo

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    I just think that, for some reason, his stamina (mental and phisical), doesnt last until the end of the tournament, it has happend that he makes good initial rounds and out of nowhere he just cant do anything else. Im hoping that this is just a HC phenomen (since is all he has played this year) but truth is that it comes from last year.
     
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  24. Resurge

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    Completed agreed - the field is deep and there're many dangerous players around. I think to some extent this should be take into consideration when bringing up the "weak era" topic, which personally I think is not fair.
     
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  25. Naysayer

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    I like this thread! Enough so that I actually registered just to post. To play devil's advocate (or to be a "naysayer"), I'll say that the stats cited may or may not prove what was claimed (i.e., that Nadal hasn't really improved on hard courts). First, it doesn't really appear to be the case that Nadal is playing more tournaments than most of the top 10- only two players (Fed is one, I forgot the other) have played fewer than 6 tournaments, the remainder have played 6. If we corrected for the number of potential matches that a player could have played, given the tournaments entered, I think Nadal would still come out on top for the season thus far. Second, with regard to the first post, shouldn't we have these types of statistics for the other top 10ers? Perhaps Nadal's percentage is actually typical (i.e., top 10 lose to other top 10 a lot).
     
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  26. Resurge

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    Hey there! Thanks for being so thoughtful - I like this discussion too. Two thoughts on this: I do not think Nadal played more than a typical Top 10 during the same period and his points does say something about his performance. However, as I mentioned earlier - what the points do not tell you, I believe, is who he played in those tournaments. Again, if the expectation is just to be in the mix with average performance (among top players), I believe he's already there; but, to substantiate the arguments from some "fans" that he's on top of the game and can handily beat the top guys, we need more & better performance as the current stats do not support these arguments. 1 in 3 chance really isn't that convincing for this argument. Second, I dont have the exact stats, but I believe his winning percentage against the top players is about or even slightly below average among the top 8 players. I believe at least Federer, Djokovic, Roddick did better, which essentially puts him at average at best. Again, I am not saying Nadal sucks - it's just the discrepancy between what happened and what some people seem to believed has happened that's catching my attention. :)
     
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  27. Benhur

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    Making and showcasing a list of *losses* is not the most outstandig example of an unbiased perspective, especially if you don't show the list of losses of the players with whom you are comparing him.

    Yours is a rather quaint perspective, if you put it together with, winning percentages per surface. Your selection of statistics seem to show that he is one of the worst top 8 players on hardcourts.

    But certain facts inconvenience this assessment. Namely, hardcourt ranking points, and hardcourt winning percentages. For example, among the current top 10, Nadal has the 4th best *lifetime* winning percentage on hardcourts.

    Lifetime HARDCOURT winning percentages:

    Federer 82%
    Roddick 77%
    Djokovic 73%
    Nadal 72%
    Blake 67%
    Nalbandian 64%
    Davydenko 59%
    Gasquet 59%
    Berdych 58%
    Ferrer 57%

    The above of course includes Nadal's matches in 2003-2004 when he was 15 and 16 years old. If you look at the hardcourt winning percentages starting in 2005 (or any period thereafter) he is in 3rd position.

    That shows a rather different picture.

    And that picture is also consistent with his hardcourt point rankings for all those years.

    What your posts shows, in view of the above, is that his losses are much more consistently concentrated on the very top players, so that -- except for Federer -- he loses *less* frequently to players outside the top, than those other players with whom you compare him. So your perspective makes sense only if you implicitly assume that losses to a top-8 are *more* detrimental to a player's record than losses to lower ranked players.

    But to most people, including from an ELO perspective, the exact opposite is the case.

    So, in the end, the distribution of Nadal's losses by quality of opponent, *in comparison* with those other players (a comparison you did not make because it would be too blatantly inconvenient) acts to strengthen, not weaken the accuracy of his hard-court ranking position, which is 3 and has been 3 for quite a while.
     
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  28. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Excellent post!
     
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  29. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Absolutely!
     
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  30. Resurge

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    Thank you for the excellent point. As I mentioned - losing to a top guy is much much better than losing to a 200th ranked person, and there's really no denying Nadal is one of the toughest guys even on HC. But - the whole reason for the argument is to refute the notion that he's on top of the game on HC already - as some have claimed. In order to substantiate this argument you need a better result against the top guys. Beating the likes of Mahut (no offense) should really be irrelevant in this discussion. What points and winning percentage do not tell you is who they played in the process, and the reason a slam is more difficult than others is not only it requires a five-setter, it's because more rounds means you are more likely to run into a top player.

    On the other hand, I agree with you that to be consistent in the game, and not losing to a lower ranked player is an important aspect of being on top. I think that's what hurts players like Davydenko a lot. In the end, I agree Nadal is a great player on HC (as I always did) but there just isn't much evidence to support the claims that he's on top of the games already.
     
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  31. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    We can all agree that Nadal came on tour as a "clay courter." What he's done since on grass and hardcourt is phenomenal. There are no two ways about it.
     
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  32. Resurge

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    Sensible assessment. For a clay courter Nadal's done phenomenonally well on HC. He needs a different game to be get better on HC I doubt he will (If i were him I would not). It's unlikely that he'll be the favorite on a HC when the other top guys are around, but in my view that's completely okay, if you understand he's strengths and weaknesses.
     
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  33. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Now the post is getting tricky. If you take into account only who you lose to, that doesn't make sense. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't that make it better to lose to lower ranked opponents? During the course of a tournament Nadal frequently plays tougher opponents to get to the final, this would also affect his hc winning percentage and performance. The reasonings sound faulty to me. Improvement or no? High percentage, or no? I don't get the point you're trying to make!
     
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  34. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Why do you call him a clay courter, when his winning percentages on all surfaces are good? To me, he's learning on all of the different surfaces and even in the learning curve is making significant progress and is head and shoulders above many so-called hardcourters? I don't know, sounds fishy to me!
     
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  35. Resurge

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    I am not sure about this...losing to a lower ranked player is always worse than losing to a top guy, and winning percentage overall and percentage against top players do not always go together. I think the point is: to prove a tougher point (Nadal is on top of men's game on HC), you need a tougher standard than just winning percentage overall, and IMO the test of winning percentage against the top guys is a must. Of course in many cases you can win a tournament without playing a top guy (which happens a lot to everybody), but I believe this should be coupled with other stats in interpretation.

    As to improvement - as I've always said, Nadal has improved compared with the old himself. But that is much less relevant compared with the "relative" improvement, because while you improve, others do too. Whoever does it the most efficiently wins - at least it seems me to be Djokovic.
     
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  36. Resurge

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    Sounds to me you think clay courter is a bad name....mmmmmm we have a problem here then. In my dictionary, if you win 80% of your titles on clay court, you're a clay courter, but it may just be me....

    You sound like I don't like Nadal - I actually do and think he should be the one who takes over the No.1 when Federer fades. What I dont like is getting ahead of the facts - or facts in my mind.
     
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  37. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    The statements being made about Nadal's hardcourt prowess, so to speak, deal specifically with 2008. Two years ago he wasn't considered a threat, nor in the conversation when it came to hard courts, or grass. But, he's proved us wrong each time. For 2008, the year in question he does have the hard court highest percentage having not lost before the quarters in any event. I don't think anyone else can boast that, not even Djokovic. He's also won more matches on hard court this year than anyone else. Will the trend continue? We don't know. But at this point, all we can go by is percentages. I liked your graph, but am leery of the data seeing as how you didn't do one for the other top tenners? The way it was done was really difficult to get a fair assessment because we all know that data can be manipulated.
     
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  38. Resurge

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    Thanks...a couple of thoughts on this: first of all, results of 2008. Traditionally Nadal has been doing reasonably well in the early spring HC season, and I believe the point difference between this year and last (about 200) is within the margin of error, given the relatively small sample size (imagine he ran into Tsonga in 4th round at AO rather than semi?). I wouldn't personally read too much into results from a relatively short period of time. Second, what data says. I think you're right that I am taunting stats that are not entirely favorable to Nadal, but as I mentioned many times, to meet a tougher standard and to substantiate a tougher claim, you go through a tougher examination. Remember how Federer was only compared to Nadal when talking about this clay performance? I think that's the price you pay to be on top. Maybe just out of sheer frustration that some posters are getting way out of the facts or maybe I haven't gotten the immune system to that...:)
     
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  39. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    To me, clay courters typically don't do well on other surfaces, and when hard court and grass season come around many of them don't even show up. To call him a clay courter regardless of his accomplishments on other surfaces appears to be erroneous.
     
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  40. edmondsm

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    He lost in the 2nd round in Rotterdam.
     
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  41. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks, I forgot about that. Hard time remembering matches not on TV, or that I don't watch on the computer!
     
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  42. Resurge

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    mmmmmm...that gives a bad name to clay courters. By this definition I dont know who the greatest clay courter is: certainly not Nadal, Borg is out too...not Rosewall either...we really have to go down the list a lot to find someone who excels exclusively on clay, even Guga wins HC masters and year end championships...for the record, I really dont see clay courter as inferior to any other type of players...:)
     
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  43. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    But I thought we were talking about the 2008 results. What was skewed was only posting Nadal's losses vs. the rest of the top ten's losses. That was bizarre to me. As far as losses, you could concievably count Federer's losses as Volandri, Nalbandian twice, Murray twice, Djoker twice, Gonzo and now Fish, but what would be the point? Would it mean Federer was no longer a hard court threat? Absolutely not! I was curious as to why you didn't post the others results, because without that the argument falls flat. I think you are tainting the results...I guess that's my point!
     
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  44. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    I don't agree with the whole comparing people argument in the first place. All the factors are not equal. The technology, the schedules, the players, even the tournaments are configured differently. But in today's time, which is where I'm at, clay courter denotes someone who excels on clay primarily, not one who has a well-rounded resume!
     
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  45. Resurge

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    Aha - now I get you. First of all, if anyone comes out and say Federer is now on top of men's game, I'd be one of the first to say that's stupid. But is he not a threat? He certainly is. Same goes for Nadal - if he's claimed to be a threat on HC, no argument whatsoever. But to say he's on top of the game - that's a huge leap forward, IMO.

    I also stated many times a loss is a loss, and really doesn't mean much. What matters is results over a relatively long period of time (15 months IMO would be enough). If I simply make my point based on the losses and score, that's flimsy, but it seems my point in the entire post somehow got lost in your reading...on a more serious note, i always think a fan should be open to all things - praises and criticism, and being defensive rarely does any good. Again, maybe just me. :)
     
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  46. Resurge

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    Respectfully disagree but hey at least you've made your point. Appreciated.
     
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  47. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    You're right, but in making that type of analysis where you only post Nadal's losses negates your point in the first place. And if you took the 15 months and did everyone's win and losses that would make it more equitable. I try to be open to different people's opinions and don't get offended as you suggest. I simply saw holes in your reasoning and thought I'd respond!
     
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  48. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    I appreciate your explanations as well. Wasn't sure how you got to it, and needed further clarification!
     
    #48
  49. Resurge

    Resurge New User

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    27
    And BTW, I believe this is somewhat irrelevant in the same sense as Nadal losing to Seppi, or Djokovic losing to Kevin Anderson really doesn't make Federer's loss to Fish more justifiable. The only thing that they say in common is that the field is deep, and in ten years time no one will remember at the same time Federer lost 2 & 3 to Fish, Djokovic also lost to a qualifier. These justification, IMO, is only relevant in such arguments and doesn't count much when reviewing your whole career.
     
    #49
  50. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Messages:
    13,674
    OK, respectfully disagree. Losses here and there don't mean anything, but isn't that what this post was about? Posting Nadal's losses? You keep losing me. I'm out!
     
    #50

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